New Delhi: It is not for the first time that the Pakistan army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, has spoken in favour of India-Pakistan peace. He did so again yesterday at a passing out parade. What are the chances that the two countries will talk things out in the near future? Next to nil.

General Bajwa is not your average fire-spewing Pakistan army chief. He is a thinking man and he takes a keen interest in the affairs of India. Given his position, one could reflexively assume that his interest in India is bound to be hostile which it well might be. But a man often leaves the true imprint of his character in ways he cannot know. Bajwa is a bit of an intellectual general. His quest for a dialogue with India, therefore, at least partly arises from an intellectual conviction that there is no other way. Except that circumstances and conditions are dreadfully loaded against an India-Pakistan peace. It would be helpful, nevertheless, to go over the contentious territory if only to bring a resolution of the disputes nearer in future.

The trouble started at the very beginning of independence for the two countries when their governing heads took contrasting trajectories to fulfil their national obligations. Jawaharlal Nehru was unswerving in his determination for nation-building and all that stands virtually immortalized today, from AIIMS to Chandigarh to the Bhakra Dam and the PSUs and IITs, were his creation. Setting out with little private capital, he yet ensured India was not ensnared by peripheral capitalism, a fate that afflicted Pakistan.

His early death absolved Muhammad Ali Jinnah of much of the blame for this, but he has to be called to account for devoting little thought to nation-building. In a word, Pakistan suffered because it did not have Nehru. Jinnah’s problem -- and by that token Pakistan’s -- commenced from his unhappiness with the terms of the Partition. He had got a “moth-eaten” state as it were. Jammu and Kashmir did not join Pakistan as he had hoped. It started Pakistan on an envious track in relation to India and that has only grown and become unmanageable in the decades since.

There is no reason why Pakistan couldn’t have done well with its share of the Partition award. But rather than concentrate on nation-building, Jinnah displayed a reckless side. He determined that Pakistan’s geography would be an asset in the Cold War rivalry then in the nascent stage. He hoped to gain advantages for Pakistan in a mid-twentieth century version of the Great Game. Nation-building is farthest from wilfully permitting your national territory to become a theatre for Great Power rivalry. In doing so, however, Jinnah mortgaged Pakistan’s future to foreign powers. It helps to understand Pakistan’s love-hate relations with the United States and its crippling dependence on China and to a lesser extent on Saudi Arabia. For his pains, Jinnah died early leaving Pakistan adrift. It had no future with him and even less after he passed away.

However, before leaving, Jinnah entangled India and Pakistan in a war over Jammu and Kashmir whose repercussions are felt to this day. Since neither country had a surplus of military strength to overwhelm the other, their forces and arms having been split from common assets at independence, the war dragged to a stalemate. The stalemate produced a situation of partitioned Kashmir of which one portion was controlled by Pakistan and the other by India. The second Indo-Pak war of 1965 also produced a stalemate and left Jammu and Kashmir as it is. In 1971, India for the first time had the strength to overwhelm Pakistan, but the need to separate what became Bangladesh (with its ongoing genocide) was felt to be more pressing than to repossess Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. There was also the American angle. Splitting away East Pakistan was tolerable but the western half located all the efforts to broker a Sino-American peace against Soviet Russia and had to be kept intact.

When India went nuclear in 1974, the aim was to prevent America-induced regime change of the sort later seen in Iraq and Libya. The unintended consequence of 1974 was accelerated Pakistani efforts to acquire their own deterrent; and in about fifteen years, they had definitely reached the milestone to close India’s window of seizing PoK. The 1998 Indian and Pakistani tests formalized their nuclear rivalry and took PoK further out of India’s reach. In the Kargil War the following year, A. B. Vajpayee gave clear instructions not to cross the Line of Control. It affirmed across the Centre-Right political spectrum that the LoC is the de facto border between India and Pakistan. The secret part of the 1972 Simla talks also ventured in that direction which Pakistan ducked from accepting then and rejects outright today.

The only basis for India-Pakistan peace is to formalize the status quo. India is bleeding in Kashmir but Kashmir is doing much worse by eroding India’s democratic credentials. On the other hand, Pakistan is tottering from crisis to crisis with the absence of any founding vision for nation-building. In every sense, Pakistan is a dysfunctional state. Its unfortunate jealousy of India has landed it there. Pakistan’s terrorism will not affect India’s resolve to keep Kashmir. Beyond a point, Pakistan’s “all-weather ally” will not come to Pakistan’s aid. It stood mute in 1971. In case Pakistan hopes to provoke a war on the twin Pakistani and Chinese fronts for India, India will go nuclear targeting China before Pakistan. It is a simple question of India’s survival. And India has grown beyond the point to wilt under world pressure. At its weakest in 1990, it did not cave in.

These are the objective facts. These facts are beyond anyone’s power to alter in the current state of India-Pakistan relations. Pakistan would be hoping for a change in 2019 but it shouldn’t bet on it too much. The mandate for whoever comes to power would not include map-making. This is as good as it gets. General Qamar Javed Bajwa surely has the intelligence to understand the reality.

Editor’s Note: Except General (retired) V. K. Singh who has done credit to the uniform he once wore, no other politician has displayed conscience in the Kathua outrage. Rahul Gandhi lacked the courage to take a stand until General Singh showed the way. And then he took his whole family to India Gate armed with candles and the dodgy brother-in-law in tow. Only Priyanka redeemed herself urging decency and purpose on the assembled rowdy crowd but she is not a politician yet.

Meanwhile, Narendra Modi had to be goaded to speak, when he is ever ready to launch into diatribes against the UPA. He is headed for London and one of his shows is called “Bharat ki Baat”. What is he going to talk about? Kathua and Unnao? Because there is nothing else to talk about. Hindutva has disgraced the country. The RSS has leached communal poison into the soil and waters of this great land which preys on the weakest of the weak.

Political fortunes will be made and unmade on these outrages. If Meenakshi Lekhi rages on the Right with an intuitive understanding that the plot is lost, the pseudo-secular brigade has captured Twitter with triumphal glee at the sight of the BJP’s discomfiture. Ideology, party politics, partisanship and fanaticism rule. It is above all about power.

Few, if any, shed a tear for the child of the wild who will never return. Her horses will miss her. The highland pastures will be deprived of her gentle little running feet. Her place around the family fire will be empty. Every time a child dies, the country dies a little. Crazed with power, however, we no longer care.